Monday, 10 December 2007


Dave, Saskboy, James Bow all have very good arguments about why the proposed DMCA legislation could be a very bad thing.

However, I'm in complete agreement with Adam. We ain't gonna win this fight.

To a certain extent, we already lost it. Us long-time audiovideo-ophiles remember being screwed over by DRM technology way back in the 80s. Backing up VHS movies was way more important back then as VHS tapes fail quite frequently. Its why I never bought any movies on VHS. I knew they would eventually fail and the money invested would be lost. If I couldn't back them up, I didn't want them.

Ironically, I ran into the Macrovision DRM technology recently when I tried to use my VCR as a pass-through device to share my DVD player with two televisions (one upstairs, one downstairs). The VCR scrambled the signal and prevented me from watching the DVD on the second television. I had a legally purchased DVD, running on a legally purchased DVD player, connected to two legally purchased televisions where one television was patched through a legally purchased VCR. And I was prevented from "fair-use" watching of the movie on the second television. I was (and remain) incensed about this.

Cracking DRM, while possible, does involve time effort and some skill. It took several hours of trying to transfer my (legally purchased) children's DVDs to my brand-new Mediasonic MG-35 media center. I accomplished it in the end, but I gave up a few evenings to do it. The point is, how many people will find this worthwhile as a personal exercise? DMCA laws aren't going to change much, as the technology itself is a pain to circumvent.

I submit, to win the DRM/DMCA war, we have to change the terms of the battle. As I posted here, I no longer purchase music, I also don't download it either. I used to. I would download music as a means to evaluate an album, and if I liked it enough, I would go out an buy it. Once the download crackdown started, I abandoned the music scene entirely. I am only one individual, but that explains why my family no longer buys music. Same thing with Macrovision preventing duplicating of VHS tapes. I couldn't back them up, so I didn't buy them.

This is my warning to the media corporations. Make it illegal for me to back-up my DVDs, and I will stop purchasing them too.

That's how we win this war. If Big Media insists we have no rights to fair use of their product, I insist they have no right to my money. If we all collectively do this, it will make a resounding thud on boardroom tables when the bottom line drops even further.

Lets take this one step further. Lets draft a Copyleft usage agreement that we as consumers insist media adopt if they want our money. Let them pass their legislation, let them win that battle. We then as consumers dictate that we will not purchase the product from any company that does not explicitly give up those rights and subscribe to our copyleft agreement.

Who's with me?

*Note: This would be a good place to start. We have to provide some means of guaranteed income for artists, otherwise they have no incentive to make their art.


Dave said...

Ooooh! I'm definitely with you on that idea.

I'll put a link back to your post later on tonight.

James Bow said...

It does seem like the protests worked, though, with the delay of this bill. So, ideally, we should be using BOTH approaches.